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Fourteen

The blood gets everywhere. Slippery and bright, sticky and dark, red, black, brown. Proof of life - or death - or something in between.
It spirals down the shower drain like an homage to Hitchcock.
I haven't seen Curt for half of a week.
Or half of a century.
Or something.
I can feel him from a thousand miles away, the connection between us is as strong as ever.
His heartbeat gets back to me the way that a spider can feel a fly tugging at her web.
Without him, I spend my nights walking - and watching - and waiting.
Writing songs I will never sing.
The blood gets everywhere.

Call me, god damn it.

Depression and thoughts of suicide...


In case you were wondering, I DO hold the election of Donald Fucking Trump partially responsible for the general sense of hopelessness which led my friend to take his own life. I try not to place blame for what is ultimately death by an insidious disease called depression - but my own experience has shown me that external factors make a huge difference.
Not all of us are strong enough to keep fighting off the darkness, especially when we have a disease which makes the darkness a hundred times worse. No one will ever know exactly why Alan chose to end his life...but I am intimately familiar with the kind of hopelessness which makes that choice seem so tempting.
It has been nearly two years since I tried to kill myself, and since then, not a day has passed when I haven't secretly wished that I had succeeded. I don't want to be dead, I just want to be free of the weight which makes every breath a struggle - and every victory taste like ashes.

I don't want to be dead, but sometimes I feel as though I am halfway there.



Chapter 1

“Surely you could send someone else” Obi-Wan suggested “perhaps Master Fisto?”
Mace Windu took a deep breath, doing his best to mask his annoyance.  “You are one of our best negotiators” he clarified “ Kit would have difficulty staying focused.  Altaris Prime has broken Jedi in the past.”
“I am aware of Altaris’ reputation “ The younger man said “and puzzled by what business the Jedi could possibly have there”.
“Our goal ” Windu continued “ is to establish a recreational base for our clone soldiers. The genetic code which programs them as soldiers also boosts their mating urges. If they weren’t sterile most of the known worlds would already be overrun with them.”
“If the base is for our soldiers, then perhaps we could send in Captain Rex and Commander Cody to negotiate.”
           Windu shook his head “You have been chosen by the counsel. It is your job to speak to the Altaran triumvirate and convince them to welcome our men. “
Obi-Wan stroked his beard, listening as the taller Jedi continued the briefing.
“As you know, Altari customs are quite different from those of other races, they have no sexual inhibitions and consider physical intimacy a sacrament.  You have been chosen for this mission, in part because we have faith in your ability to separate physical pleasure from the clouding effects of emotion.”
                                                                                                    
“ I fear my rather limited experience in that area may prove a handicap” the younger man observed “When I took my oath, I put such things aside – and before then I wasn’t exactly the most popular padewan in the temple.”

Windu raised an eyebrow, if Obi Wan had not known the man for so many years, he might have sworn that the general was smirking. “ Be that as it may, Kenobi, the assignment has fallen upon you. I will send Mistress Evarina to your chambers this evening, she was once an Altaran senator, her skills and experience will be invaluable to you if you are to succeed.”

Chapter 2.

The training room was blessedly empty when Obi-Wan arrived. After stretching and warming up, he began the first of the 36 kata that made up his training routine.  Something about the upcoming mission troubled him, but by the time he executed the final step of the 36th kata he had put it out of his mind. Tired, and drenched in sweat, he returned to his chambers. After a cooling shower, he changed into a pair of loose fitting pants and walked toward his kitchenette.
                                                                                                      “Greetings, Master Kenobi” said a soft, decidedly female, voice. “Master Windu instructed me to meet you here.” Mistress Evarina was an imposing sight. She stood four inches taller than Obi-Wan, and although she was humanoid in nearly every aspect, her skin was a dark navy blue scattered here and there with pale freckles like stars on a midnight sky. Her hair, which she wore in a single, neat braid was a deep purple at the roots, fading to pale lavender at the tips. She wore a delicate silken tunic, which left very little to the imagination.
                                                                                                    
Feeling suddenly self-conscious, Obi-Wan took a deep breath and centered himself. “Welcome” he said “I wasn’t expecting you so soon.  If you will excuse me for a moment …” he returned from the bathroom having added a short robe to his ensemble and sat down next to her on the single shelf with served as bed and sofa. Her ice-blue eyes met his and she began the briefing. “As you know” she began “I once served as Altair’s representative to the Galactic Senate. Altair Prime is colloquially known as the Pleasure Planet. Many assume that this title comes from the fact that our economy is driven almost entirely by our entertainment industry. We have the finest theaters, the most decadent restaurants, and of course, the most diverse sex trade of any known world, but we also have a unique environmental advantage. The plants which generate our atmosphere have an aphrodisiac quality.  We Altari are acclimated to this, but off-worlders are almost immediately intoxicated.”
                                                                                                    
“And what are the symptoms of this intoxication?” he asked.
“Effects vary by species. In most humanoids it activates the sex drive, while simultaneously creating a mild euphoria which seems to curb aggression. “
Obi Wan smiled wryly “So, you are literally lovers, and not fighters.”
“Yes” She smiled back . “and you must be trained to retain your focus and control while under the Altari spell – as well as being educated in the arts of giving and receiving physical pleasure. This is, of course, why I have been sent.” She gestured for him to stand, then opened her had to reveal a small glass vial and a two inch silver sphere. “This vial contains a tincture of our Alteran lotus flower.”
“And the ball?”
“The ball is merely a tool to be used with it.”  She tossed it into the air, catching it as it came down. “First, I will test you, and we will decide where to go from there. All that you need to do is to hold the ball steadily in place using the force.”

The Jedi nodded and force lifted the ball as instructed. “This is the first thing we teach the younglings “ he said. “It is hardly a worthy challenge for a Jedi master.”
Lady Evarina opened the vial and anointed herself with the tincture. She waved the empty bottle under his nose as she reached over to place it on the table. The ball remained motionless, as though nailed to the spot.

Obi Wan blinked, surprised at the transformation of his tutor. A scarce moment before she had been beautiful, but now, with the scent of lotus clinging to her, she was luminious. He could see the living force radiating around her. Her silver freckles seemed to pulse like stars against the inky sky of her perfect skin. The ball trembled for a second, and he remembered how the other younglings would do their best to distract him when they had played this game, doing everything they could think of to make him drop whatever small object he was levitating. He was very good at the game, but this time the stakes were different.

      A moment later, he dodged to the left as Evarina threw the empty vial at his head. “You’ll have to do better than that” he grinned “they used micro blasters on me when we were on the playground.” Evarina took a fighting stance and advanced toward him. After fifteen minutes of sparring, the dark skinned woman tapped the levitating ball and seemed pleased at its immobility.
“You are very good at this game, Kenobi, but I have never lost.”
                                                                                                    
She stepped close to him, slipping the short robe off of his shoulders and exposing him from the waist up.  He felt the silken fullness of her breasts as she brushed against him. He blushed at his body’s immediate response. Her skin was dotted with galaxies, and the sweet scent of the lotus flower made his head spin. Despite his most stoic efforts his hardening cock became a conspicuous presence. Evarine pulled him closer, the entire length of her sweat dampened, barely covered, body pressing against him as her full lips pressed against his.

The sound of the silver ball as it landed on the thick carpet seemed nearly deafening.  She pulled away from him. “I win ” she purred, summoning it to her hand. “Next time we play, I expect you to impress me.”

Chapter 3.

Obi-Wan had had a long day. Senator Amidala had asked him to speak before the senate about a simple issue of sending supplies to refugees on Rylos and it had turned into a full day of debate.  As he returned to the temple, doing his best to clear his mind of frustration, Mistress Evarina approached him. “ Are you ready for next lesson?” she asked. Obi-Wan looked up at her, pleased to see that without the lotus’ influence she was far less of a distraction. He cast around for a plausible excuse - perhaps something like a headache - but found himself agreeing to meet her in his chambers later that evening.  She arrived clad in a backless loose fitting white silk dress that seemed determined to cling to her every curve. In her left hand she held the golden ball, and in her right a small box made of filigreed metal. The Jedi General eyed the box suspiciously. “In order to better acclimate you to the Altaran atmosphere I brought along a room atomizer.” She opened the box “In a few moments the air in your room will be a fairly good match for the air on my homeworld.” She tossed the golden ball toward him “would you like to play again?”

Obi-Wan smiled, and gestured toward the sphere,  stopping it in mid –air where it hovered between, and slightly above them. Evarine laughed, her blue eyes widening in amusement. This time, she kissed him immediately – he remained stoic and unresponsive. “You are much like your master Qui-Gon” she observed. “He trained you well. – but for this mission, you need to put some of that training aside. On Altair this behavior would be considered unforgivably rude. I think perhaps we should try this with a little less concentration.” She held her hand out and the ball dropped gently into her lavender tinted palm.  The jedi took a deep breath, suddenly aware of the effects of the enhanced atmosphere. Evarine glowed softly as the force haloed her in subtle luminescence. The constellations on her skin pulsed and glowed warmly, galaxies waiting to be explored. Tonight her waist length hair hung loose in heavy ringlets, and her eyes were lined in gold. She stood in front of him like some ancient temple goddess. Moving with impossible grace she reached behind her to unclasp the single closure at the back of her neck, the dress pooled at her feet in a gossamer cloud.

“Before you can learn control, you must first learn what it is you are controlling.” She stepped closer, her lissome fingers unbuckling his belt as she undressed him and led him to the bed. They lay facing each other on the thin mattress. “Tonight’s lesson” she began “is in accepting and reciprocating pleasure. I want you to relax. This is a natural act- let your body guide you. We can stop anytime you want, if you feel uncomfortable or…” her words were cut off by his first kiss.

And then some sex happens -



 

Movie Lecture for work.

I'm parking this here in case of emergency:

Hello and welcome to Scarecrow Video, my name is Rhias and today I’m going to be talking to you about the way that senior characters have been depicted in film over the decades. Before we start, I want to tell you a little about Scarecrow. You may have noticed that we have lots of movies – in fact we’re one of the largest film archives in the world, and we are one of the few archives where you can actually rent the films and take them home with you. We don’t make enough money from film rentals to sustain the archive – so we are also a non-profit. What that means is that we depend on grants and donations in order to keep functioning. Today’s talk is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, and Arts Washington. If you have any questions about the non-profit, I will be happy to answer them for you after we finish.

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Lucky 13

My last record, Defenestrating Angels, was released over a decade ago. Once upon a time, I had a solo career - I sold a lot of music, and I had legions of fans. They were almost exclusively young female outcasts, goths and punks just emerging from their coccoons and waiting for their wings to dry. They were women who felt alone and opressed and who needed a voice for their anger and frustration. For a few years I was that voice. They were good years, but being that angry all the time wasn't sustainable. I could only rage against injustice, I couldn't fix it.  I couldn't make a world in which my fans were safe walking home from my shows. I couldn't change a system that had kept women oppressed for thousands of years, and I was tired and battle weary. It was time to lay down my sword.

Last night I found the lyrics to an ancient call to arms, it was folded into the back of a book I was reading. I remember scribbling it on hotel stationary while Law & Order: Special Victims Unit droned on about rape in the background. It was probably the last angry feminist song I wrote before I called it quits. I never even bothered to come up with a title...

No one gets to tell you how to feel about yourself
Couching all their hate in fake concern about your health
No one gets to tell you how you have to live your life
You don’t have to be a Mother, you don’t have to be a wife.

Blood and fire and fury, we are the gates of hell
Blood and fire and fury, listen children, listen well.

They see you walking down the street, and yell at you  to smile.
Ask you for your number, call you a bitch for your denial.
They beat you up a thousand ways, they're just boys out being boys
Rape cultures not a thing they claim, its just women making noise

 Chorus

Baby needs got a shotgun and a can of gasoline
Baby has her own mind, and she’s got a house to clean.
She's got your fucking sandwich, but the meat is kinda tough
She's a million angry women and she's finally had enough.

Twelve

I never liked children, even when I was one of them.  My childhood appeared as unexceptional as the tiny Kansas town where I spent those first 15 years. I had no friends or enemies my own age. Around adults I was happy to be seen and not heard. My parents friends all loved me for that. I was merely part of the landscape.

I sleepwalked through my youth, happy only when I could pick up a book and escape into my secret life.  I remember walking down a red dirt road to the bus stop, kicking at the sands of Barsoom. I remember clinging to the rigging of my pirate ship as the willow branches blew like an angry sea around me. I remember the feel of a sword, heavy and deadly in my hand even if everyone else saw only a stick.  I was always more alive in my imagination than in the real world, standing on a threshold between the material plane and an astral freedom I would never truly know.

When I was 15 years old, I ran away from home. I ran away from the smell of cheap beer on my Father’s breath and the terror in my mother’s eyes. I ran from the secrets and I ran from the love that came with the sting of a belt. I should have gone East, but the next bus out of town was headed West. I spent three days watching America scroll past the Greyhound window like a commercial for truck stop exit ramps and sagebrush.

I never wanted to be a vampire, or even a rock star. All I ever wanted to was to be done with childhood and make my own way in the world.

Ten

I know I should have talked to him before we got on the bike, but there was so much of Jim in my veins that my words would have come out in a jumble of half written poetry. Curt clung to me as we roared back to city, the road was a blue black ribbon, a blur of dead man's memories, a great, shimmering, serpent formed of love and anger, regret and sickness.

I had never seen anyone in shock before, but it wasn't hard to recognize. Skin the color of concrete, shivering despite the heavy, oppressive, summer heat. On top of that, I had no idea what kind of shit Jim had pumped into him. His heart was beating faster now. I knew he would survive, even before he was a ghoul he was ridiculously drug resistant.

The sun was almost up. I lay down beside him and hoped for the best.

Nine

I live here in Kill City, where the debris meets the sea. It's a haven for the rich, but its a loaded gun to me." - Iggy Pop

The beach stank of primordial ooze, rotting seaweed, dead things. A waning moon, a couple of isolated street lamps, and down toward the pier, a ring of driftwood and flickering orange. The flames reflected on a hundred pieces of scattered glass.

I felt them surrounding me as I walked toward the fire pit. They were mostly human, but the bitter tang of vampire blood clung faintly to them.
I squared my shoulders and didn't look back. Four, maybe five of them. They hung back. Curt sat in an old aluminum chair. He was slumped forward, his head almost resting on his knees. I could hear him breathing. His heartbeat was slow and shallow. Behind him, the lizard king, the poet prince of Venice, rested his hands on the back of the chair, always the showman, he stayed in half-shadow as I stepped into the light.

As a rule, vampires don't care for fire. It isn't so much that we're more flammable than anyone else - we've just had a long history of being burned at the stake, and we prefer to err on the side of caution. Some of the ancients are so terrified of flames that they panic at the very sight of them. I guess that is what happens when you grow up wearing ruffled skirts in houses lit entirely by candles.

"Speak your name, Witch Queen" His voice was sonorous and deep, reverberating under the pier.
"Oh, for fucks sake, Jim. You know who I am - and you know why I'm here."
He snorted derisively, disappointed that I wasn't playing along with his pompous theatrics. I heard the watchdogs come closer, five of them. At the sound of my voice Curt raised his head. I caught a glimpse of dilated pupils, a single needle mark in the crook of his arm. Jim moved forward, his hand resting on Curt's shoulder.
"Mellow out, Jayne. We were just talking about old times."
I could feel the cold tendrils of his consciousness poking me in the brain. He was trying to glamour me, but I had long since learned the secret of locking the windows to my soul. Jim had been handsome in life, and I was shocked to see how much death agreed with him. He was tall and pale and beautiful. His cheekbones were perfection but his eyes were cold and malicious.

" Back in the old days, Curt and I would get high together" as he spoke he rested a hand on the back of Curt's head. "but these days, getting high just isn't the same." he continued " when I was mortal I could step between the worlds whenever I needed to. I knew the lands of the dead like the back of my hand. It wasn't an act - I was a shaman."
Only the fact that he had my boyfriend in a death grip prevented me from rolling my eyes.
"Since my embrace I can get high enough to pass through the door - but I come down too fast." He lifted Curt's head, brushing back the hair. I could see the jugular slowly pulsing " I had to find someone who could survive with this much dope in his veins." he grinned, baring his fangs "I'm going to drink your man dry...and I'm going to write a masterpiece."

It all happened at once. Me lunging through the fire, Jim's boys grabbing at my clothes, the lawn chair kicked aside, searing pain as I was dragged back through the coals by my ankle. The first ghoul died when I crushed his windpipe with a vicious kick. The second still had my ankle, he was dragging me away from the fire and back into the shadows. A piece of flaming driftwood in the face distracted him, I struggled to my feet, bringing the club end of the torch down hard enough to crack his skull. The two remaining henchmen tackled me then, bringing me down hard. I glanced up to see the one on top of me reaching for a rock. He raised it high and I braced for an impact that never came. Suddenly he was gone and I was left with only one attacker. As the remaining thug struggled to get a grip on me, I saw an opening and punched as hard as I could. The knife-edges of my rings sliced though his skin and I heard the sickening pop of breaking ribs. I clenched my fist and pulled down hard. Beside me on the sand, Curt's hair was a blue, burning, halo as my would-be killer crawled into the darkness.

Jim laughed as he lifted Curt by the collar and he blew out the flames the way that a boy scout blows out a burning marshmallow. His gleaming fangs were a millimeter from the jugular when I scrambled to my feet. My attack was anything but graceful, it was pure animal rage. The last thing I remember was seeing Curt thrown aside like a broken toy, after that, it was all fury and instinct. When I finally came to my senses, the shredded flesh between my teeth, and the decapitated corpse of the lizard king, filled me in on the details.

On the other side of the fire, I could see Curt. He was struggling to stand. I opened my fist and something wet plopped into the firelight. He looked up at me and started to vomit. I couldn't blame him. I was caked with half clotted blood and god knew what else. I stumbled to the waterline and tried to wash my hands and face. I was sobbing and terrified. As I tried desperately to get my shit together a familiar hand touched my shoulder.
"We need to get out of here" he said hollowly.

EIGHT

 I’m not a medical professional, but there are probably better ways to wean someone off of heroin than by throwing them into a room with a floor drain and waiting a week. During that week, Curt was in constant motion, writhing in agony, crying out for the smallest taste of anything that might ease the pain. He begged me for death and forgiveness but I could offer him neither. I chained him to the wall while he fought me like a feral animal. He weighed 87 pounds. I have preternatural strength and speed.

As he returned to sanity, I fed him tiny draughts of immortality, hoping that there would be just enough of me in his veins to keep him alive. I saved his life, but all he understood was that I had kidnapped him, kept him chained in a dungeon, and subjected him to the worst pain he had ever known.

Humans can be so ungrateful.